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A view from St. Peter's Church in Riga Old Town.
A view from St. Peter's Church in Riga Old Town.
Flag of Riga
Coat of arms of Riga
Coat of arms
Location of Riga within Latvia
Location of Riga within Latvia
Country  Latvia
 • Type City council
 • Mayor Nils Ušakovs
Area(2002) [2]
 • City 304 km2 (117 sq mi)
 • Water 48.50 km2 (18.73 sq mi)  15.8%
 • Metro 10,133 km2 (3,912 sq mi)
Population (2014[3]
 • City 701,977
 • Density 2,300/km2 (6,000/sq mi)
 • Metro 1,018,295 (Riga Region)
 • Metro density 101.4/km2 (263/sq mi)
 • Demonym Rīdzinieki
Ethnicity(2013) [4]
 • Latvians 45.7% (2014)
 • Russians 38.3% (2014)
 • Belarusians 4.1%
 • Ukrainians 3.6%
 • Poles 1.9%
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Calling codes 66 & 67
Riga as seen on SPOT satellite imagery

Riga (; Latvian: Rīga, pronounced  ( )) is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 701,977 inhabitants (June 2014), Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states and home to more than one third of Latvia's population.[5] The city lies on the Gulf of Riga, at the mouth of the Daugava. Riga's territory covers 307.17 km2 (118.60 sq mi) and lies between 1 and 10 metres (3.3 and 32.8 ft) above sea level,[6] on a flat and sandy plain.[6]

Riga was founded in 1201 and is a former Hanseatic League member. Riga's historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, noted for its Art Nouveau/Jugendstil architecture and 19th century wooden architecture.[7] The city is the European Capital of Culture during 2014, along with Umeå in Sweden. The city hosted the 2006 NATO Summit, the Eurovision Song Contest 2003, the 2006 IIHF Men's World Ice Hockey Championships and the Kaspersky Lab Riga Open Snooker tournament. It is home to the European Union's office of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). Riga is served by Riga International Airport, the largest airport in the Baltic states.

Riga is a member of Eurocities,[8] the Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC)[9] and Union of Capitals of the European Union (UCEU).[10]


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
    • Founding 2.1
    • Under Bishop Albert 2.2
    • Hanseatic League 2.3
    • Holy Roman Empire, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Swedish and Russian Empires 2.4
    • Interwar period 2.5
    • World War II and the Soviet Union 2.6
    • 21st century 2.7
  • Geography 3
    • Administrative divisions 3.1
    • Climate 3.2
  • Economy 4
  • Transport 5
  • Government 6
  • Demographics 7
  • Notable residents 8
  • Architecture 9
    • Art Nouveau 9.1
  • Culture 10
    • Theatres 10.1
    • World Choir Games 10.2
  • Sports 11
    • Sports clubs 11.1
    • Sports facilities 11.2
    • Sports events 11.3
  • Universities 12
  • Twin towns – Sister cities 13
  • See also 14
  • References 15
    • Notes 15.1
  • External links 16


One theory for the origin of the name Riga is that it is a corrupted borrowing from the Liv ringa meaning loop, referring to the ancient natural harbour formed by the tributary loop of the Daugava River.[11][12] The other is that Riga owes its name to this already-established role in commerce between East and West,[13] as a borrowing of the Latvian rija, for threshing barn, the "j" becoming a "g" in German—notably, Riga is called Rie by English geographer Richard Hakluyt (1589),[14][15] and German historian Dionysius Fabricius (1610) confirms the origin of Riga from rija.[14][16] Another theory could be that Riga was named after Riege, the German name for the River Rīdzene, a tributary of the Daugava.[17]


Right bank of the Daugava River


The river Daugava has been a trade route since antiquity, part of the Vikings' Dvina-Dnieper navigation route to Byzantium.[14] A sheltered natural harbour 15 km (9.3 mi) upriver from the mouth of the Daugava—the site of today's Riga—has been recorded, as Duna Urbs, as early as the 2nd century.[14] It was settled by the Livs, an ancient Finnic tribe.[11]

The building of the Brotherhood of Blackheads is one of the most iconic buildings of Old Riga (Vecrīga)

Riga began to develop as a centre of Viking trade during the early Middle Ages.[14] Riga's inhabitants occupied themselves mainly with fishing, animal husbandry, and trading, later developing crafts (in bone, wood, amber, and iron).[14]

The Livonian Chronicle of Henry testifies to Riga having long been a trading centre by the 12th century, referring to it as portus antiquus (ancient port), and describes dwellings and warehouses used to store mostly corn, flax, and hides.[14] German traders began visiting Riga, establishing a nearby outpost in 1158.

Along with German traders also arrived the monk Meinhard of Segeberg[13] to convert the Livonian pagans to Christianity. (Catholic and Orthodox Christianity had already arrived in Latvia more than a century earlier, and many Latvians baptised)[13][14] Meinhard settled among the Livs, building a castle and church at Ikšķile, upstream from Riga, and established his bishopric there.[13] The Livs, however, continued to practice paganism and Meinhard died in Ikšķile in 1196, having failed his mission.[18] In 1198 the Bishop Bertold arrived with a contingent of crusaders[18] and commenced a campaign of forced Christianization.[13][14] Bertold was killed soon afterwards and his forces defeated.[18]

The Church mobilised to avenge. Pope Innocent III issued a bull declaring a crusade against the Livonians.[18] Bishop Albert was proclaimed Bishop of Livonia by his uncle Hartwig of Uthlede, Prince-Archbishop of Bremen and Hamburg in 1199. Albert landed in Riga in 1200[14][18] with 23 ships[19] and 500 Westphalian crusaders.[20] In 1201 he transferred the seat of the Livonian bishopric from Ikšķile to Riga, extorting agreement to do so from the elders of Riga by force.[14]

Under Bishop Albert

The year 1201 also marked the first arrival of German merchants in Novgorod, via the Dvina.[21] To defend territory[22] and trade, Albert established the Order of Livonian Brothers of the Sword in 1202, open to nobles and merchants.[21]

Christianization of the Livs continued. In 1207 Albert started on fortification of the town.[21][23] Emperor Philip invested Albert with Livonia as a fief[24] and principality of the Holy Roman Empire.[14] To promote a permanent military presence, territorial ownership was divided between the Church and the Order, with the Church taking Riga and two-thirds of all lands conquered and granting the Order a third.[25] Until then, it had been customary for crusaders to serve for a year and then return home.[25]

Albert had ensured Riga's commercial future by obtaining papal bulls which decreed that all German merchants had to carry on their Baltic trade through Riga.[25] In 1211, Riga minted its first coinage,[14] and Albert laid the cornerstone for the Riga Dom.[26] Riga was not yet secure as an alliance of tribes failed to take Riga.[25] In 1212, Albert led a campaign to compel Polotsk to grant German merchants free river passage.[21] Polotsk conceded Kukenois (Koknese) and Jersika to Albert, also ending the Livs' tribute to Polotsk.[27]

Riga's merchant citizenry chafed and sought greater autonomy from the Church. In 1221 they acquired the right to independently self-administer Riga[22] and adopted a city constitution.[28]

That same year Albert was compelled to recognise Danish rule over lands they had conquered in Estonia and Livonia.[29] Albert had sought the aid of King Valdemar of Denmark to protect Riga and Livonian lands against Liv insurrection when reinforcements could not reach Riga. The Danes landed in Livonia, built a fortress at Reval (Tallinn) and set about conquering Estonian and Livonian lands. The Germans attempted, but failed, to assassinate Valdemar.[30] Albert was able to reach an accommodation with them a year later, however and, in 1222, Valdemar returned all Livonian lands and possessions to Albert's control.[31]

Albert's difficulties with Riga's citizenry continued; with papal intervention, a settlement was reached in 1225 whereby they no longer had to pay tax to the Bishop of Riga,[32] and Riga's citizens acquired the right to elect their magistrates and town councillors.[32] In 1226, Albert consecrated the Dom Cathedral,[14] built

  • Riga Municipality portal
  • Riga travel guide from Wikivoyage

External links

  1. ^ "Riga City Council". Riga City Council. Retrieved 22 July 2009. 
  2. ^ "Riga in Figures".  
  3. ^ a b c "Table ISG12. RESIDENT POPULATION BY STATISTICAL REGION, CITY AND COUNTY". Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  5. ^ "Latvia in Brief". Latvian Institute. 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Riga Municipality Portal". Copyright © 2003–2009, Riga Municipality. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  7. ^ "Historic Centre of Riga - UNESCO World Heritage Centre". UNESCO. 1997. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "EUROCITIES - the network of major European cities". Eurocities. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "Union of the Baltic Cities". Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC). Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "Union of Capitals of the European Union". Union of Capitals of the European Union (UCEU). Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  11. ^ a b "Teritorija un administratīvās robežas vēsturiskā skatījumā" (in Latvian). Cities Environmental Reports on the Internet. Retrieved 2 August 2007. 
  12. ^ ) No. 227)Homeland MessengerEndzelīns, Did Celts Inhabit the Baltics (1911 Dzimtene's Vēstnesis (. Retrieved 24 July 2009.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Vauchez et al. Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages. Routledge, 2001
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Bilmanis, A. Latvia as an Independent State. Latvian Legation. 1947.
  15. ^ Pronouncing the "i" and "e" separately, REE-eh, is the best approximation to the Latvian rija, as "Ria" would result in an "i" not "ee" sound.
  16. ^ Fabrius, D. Livonicae Historiae Compendiosa Series, 1610: Riga nomen sortita est suum ab aedificiis vel horreis quorum a litus Dunae magna fuit copia, quas livones sua lingua Rias vocare soliti. (Latin)
  17. ^ Rīdziņa
  18. ^ a b c d e Germanis, U. The Latvian Saga. 10th ed. 1998. Memento, Stockholm.
  19. ^ Laffort, R. (censor), Catholic Encyclopedia, Robert Appleton Co., 1907
  20. ^ Tolstoy-Miloslavsky, D. The Tolstoys: Genealogy and Origin. A2Z, 1991
  21. ^ a b c d Dollinger, P. The Emergence of International Business 1200 – 1800, 1964; translated Macmillan and Co edition, 1970
  22. ^ a b Reiner et al. Riga. Axel Menges, Stuttgart. 1999.
  23. ^ Zarina, D. Old Riga: Tourist Guide, Spriditis, 1992
  24. ^ a b Moeller et al. History of the Christian Church. MacMillan & Co. 1893.
  25. ^ a b c d e Palmieri, A. Catholic Origin of Latvia, ed. Cororan, J.A. et al. The American Catholic Quarterly Review, Volume XLVI, January–October 1921. Philadelphia.
  26. ^ Doma vēsture (history). Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  27. ^ Kooper, E. The Medieval Chronicle V. Radopi, 2008.
  28. ^ Wright, C.T.H. The Edinburgh Review, The Letts, 1917
  29. ^ Murray, A., Crusade and Conversion on the Baltic Frontier, 1150–1500. Ashgate, London. 2001.
  30. ^ "The Ecclesiastical Review", Vol. LVI. American Ecclesiastical Review. Dolphin Press. 1917.
  31. ^ Fonnesberg-Schmidt, I. The Popes and the Baltic Crusades, 1147–1254. Brill. 2006.
  32. ^ a b Švābe, A., ed. Latvju Enciklopēdija. Trīs Zvaigznes, Stockholm. 1953–1955 (in Latvian)
  33. ^ Fletcher, R.A., The Conversion of Europe: From Paganism to Christianity, 371–1386AD. Harper Collins. 1991.
  34. ^ Michell, Thomas. Handbook for Travelers in Russia, Poland, and Finland. London, John Murray, 1888.
  35. ^ Fonnesberg-Schmidt, I., The Popes and the Baltic Crusades, 1147–1254. Brill, 2007
  36. ^  
  37. ^ National History Museum of Latvia
  38. ^ "Russian Retreat 1917". Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  39. ^ Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, p. 348
  40. ^ Ethnic composition of resident population by region or city, Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia Database
  41. ^ Charles, Jonathan (30 June 2005). "Latvia prepares for a tourist invasion". BBC News. Retrieved 2 August 2007. 
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^ Mikk Lõhmus and Illar Tõnisson. "Evolvement of Administrative Division of Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius".  
  45. ^ "Apkaimju projekts" (in Latvian).  
  46. ^ "Changes in the Administrative Division of the Territory of Riga after the Loss of Independence (1940–1991)". Riga City Environment Centre "Agenda 21". Retrieved 29 June 2010. 
  47. ^ "World Weather Information Service - Riga". World Meteorological Organization. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  48. ^ "Climatological Information for Riga, Latvia". Hong Kong Observatory. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  49. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Balduri, Latvia". Weatherbase. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  50. ^ "/ Uzņēmējdarbība / Nosaukti desmit lielākie eksportējošie uzņēmumi Rīgā un Rīgas reģionā". Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  51. ^ Alla Petrova, BC, Riga, 11.01.2012.Print version (17 October 2012). "Riga Freeport handles record-breaking 34.07 mln tons of cargo in 2011 :: The Baltic Course | Baltic States news & analytics". The Baltic Course. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  52. ^ "Latvia Shipping Report Q3 2012 by Business Monitor International in Latvia, Ports & Harbors, Logistics & Shipping". 17 July 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  53. ^ "Tūristu skaits Latvijā pērn pieaudzis par 21%, Rīgā - par 22% - Izklaide". Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  54. ^ "Explanatory Note on Planning and Building of the Southern Bridge Route". Retrieved 21 August 2007. 
  55. ^ "Dienvidu Tilts; Project of the Bridge". Retrieved 21 August 2007. 
  56. ^ "Dienvidu tilta maģistrālie pievedceļi" (in Latvian). Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  57. ^ "Northern Corridor; About project". Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2007. 
  58. ^ "Sailing schedule on route Riga – Luebeck".  
  59. ^ Abdul Turay (30 January 2008). "Tallinn and Riga to be linked by 2010".  
  60. ^ "Latvia to Begin Constructing Rail Baltica accessed".  
  61. ^ The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (Latvian) Retrieved 19 April 2013
  62. ^ Heleniak, Timothy (February 2006). "Latvia Looks West, But Legacy of Soviets Remains". University of Maryland. Retrieved 2 August 2007. 
  63. ^ Population Census 2011 - Key Indicators
  64. ^ The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (Latvian) Retrieved 19 April 2013
  65. ^ "Latvian National Opera". Archived from the original on 26 December 2007. Retrieved 6 May 2009. 
  66. ^
  67. ^ Nordik IT . "The Daile Theatre – Repertory". Retrieved 25 July 2009. 
  68. ^
  69. ^ a b
  70. ^ "Riga – European Capital of Culture 2014 :: LIVE RīGA". Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  71. ^ "History - World Choir Games". Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  72. ^ "Workshops - World Choir Games Riga 2014". Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  73. ^
  74. ^ "Twin cities of Riga". Riga City Council. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  75. ^ "Aalborg Twin Towns". Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  76. ^ "Aalborg Kommune – Venskabsbyer". 14 November 2007. Archived from the original on 14 November 2007. Retrieved 26 July 2009. 
  77. ^ "Sister Cities". Beijing Municipal Government. Archived from the original on 16 January 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2009. 
  78. ^ "Bordeaux - Rayonnement européen et mondial". Mairie de Bordeaux (in French). Archived from the original on 7 February 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  79. ^ "Bordeaux-Atlas français de la coopération décentralisée et des autres actions extérieures". Délégation pour l’Action Extérieure des Collectivités Territoriales (Ministère des Affaires étrangères) (in French). Archived from the original on 7 February 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  80. ^ Frohmader, Andrea. "Bremen - Referat 32 Städtepartnerschaften / Internationale Beziehungen" [Bremen - Unit 32 Twinning / International Relations]. Das Rathaus Bremen Senatskanzlei [Bremen City Hall - Senate Chancellery] (in German). Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  81. ^ "Sister Cities". Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  82. ^ "Kobe's Sister Cities". Kobe Trade Information Office. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2013. 
  83. ^ "[via]"Twin towns and Sister cities of Minsk (in Russian). The department of protocol and international relations of Minsk City Executive Committee. Archived from the original on 2 May 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  84. ^ "Mayor Announces Sister City — Meeting (7/30/2003)". Providence, RI, Office of the Mayor. Archived from the original on 2 January 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2007. 
  85. ^ "Saint Petersburg in figures – International and Interregional Ties". Saint Petersburg City Government. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  86. ^ "Taipei - International Sister Cities". Taipei City Council. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  87. ^ Riga and Yerevan sign for sister cities agreement
  88. ^ "Miasta partnerskie Warszawy". (in Polski). Biuro Promocji Miasta. 4 May 2005. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 29 August 2008. 



See also

[75] relationships with the following cities:sister city Riga maintains

Twin towns – Sister cities


Sports events

Sports facilities

Sports clubs


Riga hosted the biennial 2014 Interkultur, takes place at various host cities every two years and was originally known as the "Choir Olympics".[72] The event regularly sees over 15'000 choristers in over 300 choirs from over 60 nations compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in over 20 categories. The competition is further divided into a Champions Competition and an Open Competition to allow choirs from all backgrounds to enter.[70] Choral workshops and festivals are also witnessed in the host cities and are usually open to the public.[73]

World Choir Games

  • The Latvian National Opera was founded in 1918. The repertoire of the theatre embraces all opera masterpieces. The Latvian National Opera is famous not only for its operas, but for its ballet troupe as well.[66]
  • The Latvian National Theatre was founded in 1919. The Latvian National Theatre preserves the traditions of Latvian drama school. It is one of the biggest theatres in Latvia.[67]
  • The Riga Russian Theatre is the oldest professional drama theatre in Latvia, established in 1883. The repertoire of the theatre includes classical plays and experimental performances of Russian and other foreign playwrights.Riga Russian Theatre
  • The Daile Theatre was opened for the first time in 1920. It is one of the most successful theatres in Latvia. This theatre is distinguished by its frequent productions of modern foreign plays.[68]
  • Latvian State Puppet Theatre was founded in 1944. This theatre presents shows for children and adults.[69]
  • The New Riga Theatre was opened in 1992. It has an intelligent and attractive repertoire of high quality that focused on a modern, educated and socially active audience.


The logo for the city of Riga, designed for its 800th anniversary.


It is generally recognized that Riga has the finest and the largest collection of art nouveau buildings in the world. This is due to the fact that at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, when art nouveau was at the height of its popularity, Riga experienced an unprecedented financial and demographic boom. In the period from 1857 to 1914 its population grew from 282,000 to 558,000 making it the 4th largest city in the Russian Empire (after Saint-Petersburg, Moscow and Warsaw ) and its largest port. The bourgeoisie of Riga used their wealth to build imposing apartment blocks around the former city walls. Local architects, mostly graduates of Riga Technical University, adopted current European movements, and in particular art nouveau. However, the most notable architect of Riga, Mikhail Eisenstein was an alumnus of Saint-Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering. In that period around 800 art nouveau buildings were erected. The majority of them are concentrated in the central part of Riga and a few more in the Old Town.

Art Nouveau

The radio and TV tower of Riga is the tallest structure in Latvia and the Baltic States, and one of the tallest in the European Union, reaching 368.5 m (1,209 ft). Riga centre also has many great examples of Art Nouveau architecture, as well as a medieval old town.


Notable residents

Upon the restoration of Latvia's independence in 1991, Soviet era immigrants (and any of their offspring born before 1991) were not automatically granted Latvian citizenship because they had migrated to the territory of Latvia during the years when Latvia was part of the Soviet Union. In 2013 citizens of Latvia made up 73.1%, non-citizens 21.9% and citizens of other countries 4.9% of the population of Riga.[65] The proportion of ethnic Latvians in Riga increased from 36.5% in 1989 to 42.4% in 2010. In contrast, the percentage of Russians fell from 47.3% to 40.7% in the same time period. Latvians overtook Russians as the largest ethnic group in 2006.[4]

With 643,368 inhabitants in January 2014,[3][62] Riga is the largest city in the Baltic States, though its population has decreased from just over 900,000 in 1991.[3] Notable causes include emigration and low birth rates. Some have estimated that the population may fall by as much as 50% by 2050.[63] According to the 2011 census data, ethnic Latvians made up 46.33% of the population of Riga, with the percentage of ethnic Russians at 40.21%, Belarusians at 3.88%, Ukrainians at 3.45%, Poles at 1.85%, Lithuanians at 0.83% and other ethnicities at 3.46%. By comparison, 62.1% of Latvia's total population are ethnic Latvians, 26.9% are Russians, 3.3% are Belarusians, 2.2% are Ukrainians, 2.2% are Polish, 1.2% are Lithuanians and the remaining 2.1% are accounted for by other ethnicities.[64]


The city council is a democratically elected institution and is the final decision-making authority in the city. The Council consists of 60 members who are elected every four years. The Presidium of the Riga City Council consists of the Chairman of the Riga City Council and the representatives delegated by the political parties or party blocks elected to the City Council.

The head of the city government in Riga is the mayor. Incumbent mayor Nils Ušakovs, who is a member of the Saskaņas Centrs party, took office on 1 July 2009.


Public transportation in the city is provided by Rīgas Satiksme which operates a large number of trams, buses and trolleybuses on an extensive network of routes across the city. In addition, many private owners operate minibus services. Riga is connected to the rest of Latvia by trains operated by the national railway company Passenger Train, whose headquarters are in Riga. There are also international rail links to Russia and Belarus and plans to revive passenger railroad traffic with Estonia. Riga International Coach Terminal provides domestic and international connections by coach. Current plans envisage a trans-European rail link from Tallinn to Warsaw via Riga [60] financed by the European Union, with the first phase to be completed by 2013.[61]

Riga was also home to an air base during the Cold WarRumbula Air Base. Another airport, the Spilve Airport, is a former civilian and military airport in Riga located 5 km (3.11 mi) from Riga city centre, with active aircraft operating as early as the First World War. It became the first international airport of Riga in the 1930s, which, from 1937 linked the capital city with Helsinki via Tallinn, Warsaw via Vilnius, Berlin and Moscow via Kaunas. After World War II and the Soviet occupation, it was rebuilt into a 1950s-era airport, the hub of Aeroflot. A new ring taxiway and restored surface was added. The airport was closed for regular flights in the late 1980s. The terminal building still remains as a notable example of Stalin's neoclassical architecture.

Riga has one active airport that serves commercial airlines—the Riga International Airport (RIX), built in 1973. Renovation and modernization of the airport was completed in 2001, coinciding with the 800th anniversary of the city. In 2006, a new terminal extension was opened. Work on an extension of the runway was completed in October 2008, and the airport is now able to accommodate large aircraft such as the Airbus A340, Boeing 747, 757, 767 and 777. The annual number of passengers has grown from 310,000 in 1993 to over 4 million in 2009. It has now become the largest airport in the Baltic States, and there are plans to construct a new terminal to cope with increasing passenger numbers.

A tram in Riga

The Freeport of Riga facilitates cargo and passenger traffic by sea. Sea ferries currently connect Riga to Stockholm and Lübeck, operated respectively by Tallink and DFDS Tor Line.[58][59] The Latvian-flagged ferries MS Romantika and MS Silja Festival are located in the Riga Passenger Terminal.

The Dienvidu Bridge is currently the biggest construction project in the Baltic states in 20 years, and it is to reduce traffic congestion in the city centre.[55][56] Another major construction project is the planned Riga Northern Transport Corridor,[57] which is scheduled to commence in 2010.

As a city situated by a river, Riga also has several bridges. The oldest standing bridge is the Railway Bridge, which is also the only railroad-carrying bridge in Riga. The Akmens Bridge connects Old Riga and Pārdaugava; the Salu Bridge connects Maskavas Forštate and Pārdaugava via Zaķusala; and the Vanšu Bridge connects Old Riga and Pārdaugava via Ķīpsala. In 2008, the first stage of the new Dienvidu Bridge route across the Daugava was completed, and was opened to traffic on 17 November.[54]

Riga, with its central geographic position and concentration of population, has always been the infrastructural hub of Latvia. Several national roads begin in Riga, and European route E22 crosses Riga from the east and west, while the Via Baltica crosses Riga from the south and north.

One of the several Trolleybus types in Riga


Riga is one of the key economic and financial centres of the Baltic States. Roughly half of all the jobs in Latvia are in Riga and the city generates more than 50% of Latvia's GDP as well as around half of Latvia's exports. The biggest exporters are in wood products, IT, food and beverage manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, transport and metallurgy.[50] Riga Port is one of the largest in the Baltics. It handled a record 34 million tons of cargo in 2011 [51] and has potential for future growth with new port developments on Krievu Sala.[52] Tourism is also a large industry in Riga and after a slowdown during the recent global economic recessions, grew 22% in 2011 alone.[53]


Climate data for Riga
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 9.4
Average high °C (°F) −2.3
Average low °C (°F) −7.8
Record low °C (°F) −34.9
Precipitation mm (inches) 33.7
Avg. precipitation days 21.5 18.6 15.7 11.0 11.8 12.1 12.8 13.7 13.0 16.0 18.9 20.6 185.7
% humidity 87.9 85.2 79.4 69.7 67.7 72.0 74.2 76.7 81.1 85.1 90.2 89.4 79.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 31.0 62.2 127.1 183.0 263.5 288.0 263.5 229.4 153.0 93.0 39.0 21.7 1,754.4
Source #1: [48] (sun 1961–1990)Hong Kong Observatory [47]
Source #2: Weatherbase (precipitation, humidity, extremes)[49]

The climate of Riga is humid continental (Köppen Dfb). The coldest months are January and February, when the average temperature is −5 °C (23 °F) but temperatures as low as −20 to −25 °C (−4 to −13 °F) can be observed almost every year on the coldest days. The proximity of the sea causes frequent autumn rains and fogs. Continuous snow cover may last eighty days. The summers in Riga are warm and humid with the average temperature of 18 °C (64 °F), while the temperature on the hottest days can exceed 30 °C (86 °F).


Panorama over Riga from St. Peter's Church

Riga's administrative divisions consist of six administrative entities: Central, Kurzeme and Northern Districts and the Latgale, Vidzeme and Zemgale Suburbs. Three entities were established on 1 September 1941, and the other three were established in October 1969.[44] There are no official lower level administrative units, but the Riga City Council Development Agency is working on a plan, which officially makes Riga consist of 58 neighbourhoods.[45] The current names were confirmed on 28 December 1990.[46]

Administrative divisions

UNESCO World Heritage Site
Historic Centre of Riga
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
The Old Town of Riga
The Old Town of Riga is one of many World Heritage Sites in Europe

Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii
Reference 852
UNESCO region Europe and North America


Riga was the European Capital of Culture in 2014.[43]

In November 2013 the roof of a supermarket collapsed, possibly as a result of the weight of materials used in the construction of a garden on the roof. At least 54 people were killed. The Latvian President Andris Berzins described the disaster as "a large scale murder of many defenceless people".[42]

In 2004, the arrival of low-cost airlines resulted in cheaper flights from other European cities such as London and Berlin and consequently a substantial increase in numbers of tourists.[41]

21st century

The Soviet Red Army re-entered Riga on 13 October 1944. In the following years the massive influx of labourers, administrators, military personnel and their dependents from Russia and other Soviet republics started. Microdistricts of the large multi-storied housing blocks were built to house local workers. By 1989 the percentage of Latvians in Riga had fallen to 36.5%.[40]

During World War II Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union in June 1940 and then was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941–1944. The city's Jewish community was forced into the Riga Ghetto and a concentration camp was constructed in Kaiserwald. On 25 October 1941, the Nazis relocated all Jews from Riga and the vicinity to the ghetto. By 1942, most of Latvia's Jews (about 24,000) were killed on 30 November and 8 December 1941 in the Rumbula massacre.[39] By the end of the war the Baltic Germans were forcibly repatriated to Germany.

World War II and the Soviet Union

The 20th century brought World War I and the impact of the Russian Revolution of 1917 to Riga. The German army marched into Riga on 3 September 1917.[38] On 3 March 1918 the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, giving the Baltic countries to Germany. Because of the Armistice with Germany of 11 November 1918, Germany had to renounce that treaty, as did Russia, leaving Latvia and the other Baltic States in a position to claim independence. Latvia, with Riga as its capital city, thus declared its independence on 18 November 1918. Between World War I and World War II (1918–1940), Riga and Latvia shifted their focus from Russia to the countries of Western Europe. The United Kingdom and Germany replaced Russia as Latvia's major trade partners.

High-ranking German officers and Kaiser Wilhelm II in Riga after its fall, 3 September 1917.

Interwar period

During these many centuries of war and changes of power in the Baltic, and despite demographic changes, the nationalist movement of the Young Latvians was followed by the socialist New Current during the city's rapid industrialisation, culminating in the 1905 Revolution led by the Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party.

German troops entering Riga during World War I.

Riga remained the largest city in Sweden until 1710, a period during which the city retained a great deal of autonomous self-government. In that year, in the course of the Great Northern War, Russia under Tsar Peter the Great besieged plague-stricken Riga. Along with the other Livonian towns and gentry, Riga capitulated to Russia, but largely retained their privileges. Riga was made the capital of the Governorate of Riga (later: Livonia). Sweden's northern dominance had ended, and Russia's emergence as the strongest Northern power was formalised through the Treaty of Nystad in 1721. Riga became an industrialised port city of the Russian empire, in which it remained until World War I. By 1900, Riga was the third largest city in Russia after Moscow and Saint Petersburg in terms of the number of industrial workers and number of theatres.

As the influence of the Hanseatic League waned, Riga became the object of foreign military, political, religious and economic aspirations. Riga accepted the Reformation in 1522, ending the power of the archbishops. In 1524, iconoclast targeted a statue of the Virgin Mary in the Cathedral to make a statement against religious icons. It was denounced as a witch, and given a trial by water in the Daugava River. The statue floated, so it was denounced as a witch and burnt at Kubsberg.[36] With the demise of the Livonian Order during the Livonian War, Riga for twenty years had the status of a Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire before it came under the influence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by the Treaty of Drohiczyn, which ended the war for Riga in 1581. In 1621, during the Polish–Swedish War (1621–1625), Riga and the outlying fortress of Daugavgriva came under the rule of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, who intervened in the Thirty Years' War not only for political and economic gain but also in favour of German Lutheran Protestantism. During the Russo-Swedish War (1656–1658), Riga withstood a siege by Russian forces.

Holy Roman Empire, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Swedish and Russian Empires

Riga in 1650. The inscription reads: Prospect der Stadt Riga ums Jahr 1650 (View at the City of Riga in 1650). Drawing by Johann Christoph Brotze

In 1282 Riga became a member of the Hanseatic League. The Hansa was instrumental in giving Riga economic and political stability, thus providing the city with a strong foundation which endured the political conflagrations that were to come, down to modern times.

Hanseatic League

Albert died in January 1229.[35] He failed in his aspiration to be anointed archbishop[24] but the German hegemony he established over the Baltic would last for seven centuries.[25]

In 1227, Albert conquered Oesel [33] and the city of Riga concluded a treaty with the Principality of Smolensk giving Polotsk to Riga.[34]


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